A lack of sleep can literally be a killer as people with insomnia are more apt to initiate suicidal actions.
A new study suggests helping people with insomnia get more sleep significantly reduces the thoughts of suicide.
Specifically, researchers discovered that every one-hour increase in sleep duration was associated with a 72 percent decrease in the likelihood of moderate or high suicide risk.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for more than 38,000 deaths each year. More people now die of suicide than in car accidents.
Moreover, difficulty with sleep is common in American society as about 10 to 15 percent of adults have an insomnia disorder with distress or daytime impairment.
“We were surprised by the strength of the association between sleep duration and suicide risk,” said primary author Linden Oliver, M.A., clinical research coordinator for the University of Pennsylvania Behavioral Sleep Medicine Research Program.
“A 72 percent decrease in the likelihood of moderate or high suicide risk with a one-hour increase in sleep is interesting given the small sample size.”
The research abstract has been published in an online supplement of the journal SLEEP.
For the study, researchers merged data from two studies of insomnia capturing 471 individuals. Seventy-three indicated suicide risk with 55 classified as low suicide risk and 18 were classified as moderate or high risk.
Experts say that sleep loss is associated with depression, executive dysfunction and poor decision-making. However, few studies have investigated the role of short sleep duration in suicidal ideation.
“These results further highlight the importance of obtaining adequate amounts of sleep,” said Oliver.